to Mr. Bayard
London , March 5, 1887. (Received March 14.)
Sir: I have the honor to report to you briefly the trial yesterday, at the central criminal court, of George F. Anderson, a citizen of the United States, who was found guilty of obtaining money under false pretenses from Charles Deakin and others, also American citizens, and sentenced to five years’ penal servitude.
I attended the trial, which, I need scarcely say, was perfectly fair, every opportunity being afforded the prisoner, including several postponements, at his request, for one frivolous cause or another, to clear himself of the charges brought against him; but no evidence was he able to produce to prove that he had not falsely represented to the Deakins and others that they were about to obtain a large property here, the actual occupiers of which, knowing that they were shortly to be turned out, had declined to pay the taxes due thereupon, and that the property would be sold to pay the same unless money were forthcoming for the purpose; or that he had not strongly urged that this should be sent by the Deakins, who cabled him about $3,000, having previously advanced other sums for the prosecution of this fictitious “claim.”
The owner and occupier of the property, who had been in undisturbed possession for twenty-seven years, proved that no legal proceedings had been taken against him, with a view to his ejectment; the tax-collector of the district swore that the taxes on the property in question had never been in arrear, and that no such claim as that reported by Anderson had been made, nor was the prisoner able to show that he had devoted the money received from the Deakins for any such purpose. It was, on the contrary, very clearly proved that he made quite another use of it.
My reason for reporting this trial to you is that it happens to be the first occasion that I know of in which a perpetrator of the extensive and outrageous “estate” frauds from which our countrymen are such sufferers, and which Mr. Phelps has already reported to you, has been brought to justice; and I venture to hope that if full publicity be given to this case, it may be the means of saving many thousands of dollars, of which American citizens are annually robbed by gangs of thieves who, under the pretense of prosecuting claims to estates in this country, which either have no existence at all or are safely vested in the hands [Page 464] of those who own them, obtain large sums of money, which they spend here in riotous living.
It is to be hoped that the rascals who have hitherto practiced this nefarious trade with impunity will scarcely think it worth the risk of five years’ penal servitude. Possibly the knowledge that this will be their fate if caught may deter them from embarking in the fictitious “estate” business, and may also induce their victims to come to England and prosecute them as Deakin did. I am happy to say that the latter has been rewarded for his perseverance by the recovery of a considerable portion of his money.
I have the honor to inclose for your information copies of the correspondence which passed between this legation and Anderson while his case was before the police court.
I have, etc.,